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Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu Paperback – June 13, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Using a format similar to that of his previous work, The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Troost creates another comical and touching travel memoir. Troost and his wife, Sylvia, move from busy Washington, D.C., to Vanuatu, a nation made up of 83 islands in the South Pacific. As Sylvia works for a regional nonprofit, Troost immerses himself in the islands' culture, an odd mix of the islanders' thousand-year-old "kastoms" along with imperialist British and French influences. This really means that Troost gets to live in a nice house while he gets drunk on kava; dodges "a long inferno of magma and a cascade of lava bombs" at the "world's most accessible volcano"; and checks out the "calcified" leftovers from one of Vanuatu's not-so-ancient traditions, cannibalism. At the end of the book, the couple move to Fiji so that Sylvia will have state-of-the-art medical care when she gives birth to their first baby. While modern-day Fiji provides little fodder for Troost's comic sensibilities, the birth of his son enables him to share some deeper thoughts and decide it is "time to stop looking for paradise." A funny travelogue with a sentimental heart, Troost's latest work genuinely captures the search for paradise as well as the need for home. (June)
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Praise for The Sex Lives of Cannibals:
“A comic masterwork of travel writing.” —Publishers Weekly
“Troost has a command of place and narrative that puts his debut in the company of some of today’s best travel writers.” —Elle
“A delightful, self-deprecating, extremely sly account of life in a place so wretched it gives new, terrible meaning to getting away from it all.” —National Geographic Adventure
Top Customer Reviews
In his first memoir, Troost's reluctant adoption of his new culture is the core of the story. Heck, he wasn't even sure why he agreed to go there! His writing drew the reader into a foreign culture, bringing a higher level of appreciation for a dirty, poor, unconventional village that the average American wouldn't survive a day in. This time around, Troost has a goal of actively exploring his settings and writing a second book. The premise doesn't succeed quite as well as his fish-out-of-water basis for the first memoir.
Troost spends days bonding with natives over the psychedlic high providing by kava, but in the end, he appears to be just another man trying to escape with alcohol or drugs, only now it is conveniently packaged as a cultural experience. He is on a quest for a message and a purpose for his book, running around trying to find cannibals and other interesting characters to interview. The action seems forced. He's lost the innocence and reluctance that made the first memoir so wonderful. Is this still a great travel book? Absolutely! It is leagues above most anything else on the market.Read more ›
Curiously, cannibalism is much more relevant in this book than
in Sex Lives of Cannibals--maybe he should have saved the word
for here! Once again we escape from the structured life of
suits-and-ties and commuting to visit exotic places. You'll
read about visiting active volcanoes where tourists had been
killed a few weeks before, foot-long poisonous centipedes, the
joys of drinking kava, which is best if you don't think about
how it's made, and cannibalism, which last occurred in Vanuatu
within the author's lifetime.
Troost is a very engaging and humorous writer, frequently poking
fun at himself. And yet....and yet..there seemed to be
a difference between this book and Sex Lives--something that
gave his first book a full 5 stars, something that maybe wasn't
exactly missing here, but something that didn't quite captivate
you as his first book had done. It's been a year since I read
Sex Lives, and there are scenes that stand out in my mind from
that book--the lagoon where you would like to swim filled with
used disposable diapers, for example. Having thought things
over, I think that the problem is that in Sex Lives, there was
so much that seemed totally alien to most of our lives--such
as the lagoon with diapers. In Getting Stoned with Savages, a
lot of what we see is not as alien--you can get hurricanes and
transvestites in New Orleans or Florida, volcanoes in the
Caribbean and Central America, corrupt politicians everywhere.
The difference bewteen the idyllic view of the South Pacific
and reality in Kiribati is great, the difference in Vanuatu and
Fiji is substantial, but not as great. Still--a fine read!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another page turner. This author's wit is right up my alley.
He was born the same year as I was and his wanderlust attitude is so appealing to me. Read more
while the book is great, the physical book quality description was overstated.Published 1 month ago by sunshine
Oh, how I would like to share "a shell" (he knows!) with him. He's one of the most eloquent writers and story tellers
we have in the U.S.A. today. Read more
Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and VanuatuA different and realistic view of tropical paradise.Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
J Maarten Troost was one of my favorite authors of all time. His book "Sex lives of Cannibals" will forever stay on my shelf. This book will not. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Logan
Hilarious! Very entertaining. My brother has been to most of these islands, so he got quite a kick out of these 2 books too.
But never tried kava,,,,,,,